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Northrup Canyon

Central Washington > Grand Coulee
47.8657, -119.0833 Map & Directions
3.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
384 feet
Highest Point
2,134 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Ruins at Northrup Canyon. Photo by Kim Brown. Full-size image
  • Wildflowers/Meadows
  • Wildlife
  • Lakes

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Bald eagles, icons of the mossy forests and deep rivers of the Pacific Coast, flock to this desert canyon each winter, and their presence is reason to visit in late fall or winter. Continue reading

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Hiking Northrup Canyon

As many as 200 bald eagles roost in the trees along the south side of Northrup Canyon each night in winter. Get to the trailhead early to see the squadrons of majestic birds flying out of the canyon as they head to the fishing areas of Banks Lake. Even without the big baldies, the area offers a great experience with nature. While the eagles focus on fish, the local populations of red-tailed and Cooper's hawks hunt inland for upland birds, rodents and small mammals. The prey animals find shelter in the rich ground cover of the canyon. Ever-present sagebrush provides the best cover, but the little beasts also scurry under the clumps of balsamroot and other desert vegetation.

The trail climbs into the canyon, which holds the only native forest in Grant County. The forest is mostly pine (ponderosa and lodgepole), but some Douglas-fir also is in the mix. Those trees make this canyon a logical home to birds of all kinds, and the result is a bird lover's paradise. Following the track as it meanders through the heart of the canyon, look and listen for avians such as the great horned owls and barred owls, woodpeckers and flickers, grouse and quail, swallows and sparrows, hawks and eagles.

Hike up the canyon for a good 1.5 miles, and you'll find the forest diversifying with the inclusion of willow and aspen trees. Continue up the canyon to find an abandoned farmhouse, and scramble around the forest at your leisure before heading back the way you came.

WTA Pro Tip: Hikers can continue past the farmhouse to Northrup Lake, a further 1.5 miles, making for a 6-mile roundtrip hike. 

Hike Description Written by
Kim Brown, WTA Community

Northrup Canyon

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 47.8657, -119.0833 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

Discover Pass

WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

Take I-90 to exit 151: SR-283 signed "Ephrata/Soap Lake." Drive through Ephrata and turn north at Soap Lake onto SR-17. Continue about 20 miles and turn right on SR-2. In 4.2 miles, you'll come to a Y junction. Stay straight to merge onto SR-155. At 18.8 miles from the Y junction, turn right onto the Northrup Canyon Natural Area. Continue 0.7 mile to the trailhead.

More Hike Details


Central Washington > Grand Coulee

Washington State Parks

Guidebooks & Maps

Best Desert Hikes: Washington (Bauer & Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

On the Trail of the Ice Age Floods (Bruce Bjornstad - Keokee Books)

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Banks Lake

USGS 7.5" Quads Steamboat Rock SE and Electric City

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Northrup Canyon

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